"A vacant seat" in the Vatican, the European Union awaits the new pope

OCTAVIAN DAN (Translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 1 martie 2013

"A vacant seat" in the Vatican, the European Union awaits the new pope

Pope Benedict the 16th will be retiring today from the Vatican, a difficult blow received by the Catholic Church, but also by the supporters of the European integrationism and globalization. The fact that several days have elapsed between the initial announcement and the resignation itself mitigated the shock and made the transition easier. Pope Benedict the 16th yesterday mentioned "the stormy waters" of his rule as a Pontiff, while saying that "God would not let the Church sink", during his last hearing in front of over 150,000 people gathered in the Saint Peter Square. "I am truly moved and I see the Church live", said the Pope, to the crowd's acclaim.

Recognized on an international level as a supporter of the political mega-structure that is the European Union, of European integrationism, the Pope is also close friend to the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. Aside from the multiple questions this surprising retirement has caused, it is certain that the current European Union has received a serious blow, on top of the multiple shocks caused by the economic crisis. The effects will only be quantifiable in the long term. That is precisely why in the high level structures of the EU the election of the new Pontiff is awaited with increased interest. The relationship has been mutually friendly. In December 2012, the European Commission decided that the Vatican was not required to pay the taxes from which it was illegally exempted by Italy between 2006-2011, of several billion Euros, since recouping the money would have been almost impossible, the Independent announced.

"The Vatican has received an early Christmas present from the heads of the European Union", the British publication wrote. The EU Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, said two years ago that exempting the Vatican in Italy from paying the taxes on thousands of properties, including 4,714 hospitals and clinics, violates the regulations of the EU.

Upon his last public appearance, the Pope first ran a tour of the square in the papal vehicle, whereas the Christian catholic were waving flags and bands which had the word "thanks" written on them in many languages. The Pope wanted to leave a message of confidence between the retirement, by saying: "Over the last few months, I have felt my forces decrease and I have insistently asked God in prayer, to enlighten me (...), to make me make the best decision (...) I took this step knowing full well its gravity as well as its novelty, but also, with a deep serenity of the soul. There have been some not at all easy moments when the waters were stormy and the wind was against us, like it has been all throughout the history of the Church, and God seemed to be asleep. But I always knew that the ship of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, it is his and he would not let it sink". He then reminded that by becoming a pope on April 19th, 2005, "a heavy burden has been placed on his shoulders" and that "the private dimension of his life was completely suppressed". Benedict the 16th reiterated that he would withdraw from any public activity, even if a pope can not retire forever: "My decision to abandon the active exercise of the ministration will not change this. I will not return to the private life, a life of travels, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc... I won't abandon the cross, but I will remain closer to our Lord of the cross. I will not assume the power for the task to govern the Church, but I will remain in the service of prayer. Saint Benedict (the founder of the major order of Saint Benedict), whose Papal name I bear, will serve as a great example. I will continue to accompany the path of the Church in prayer ands reflection. The traditional "baciamano" (the moment when some people are granted the privilege to kiss the Pope's ring) was no longer held at the end of the audience, because, according to the spokesperson of the Vatican, Federico Lombardi, everybody would want to say goodbye to the pope and thus, preferential treatments were avoided. Several political personalities participated in the audience, including the Slovakian president, Ivan Gasparovic, who were saluted in private, in the Clementine Room of the Apostles' Palace.

One of the final official decisions of Benedict the 16th was that of issuing a "motu proprio" degree to allow "for the possibility of the early organization" of the Conclave of cardinals which would elect his successor. "I leave to my college of cardinals the ability to hold the Conclave earlier, once it is found that all the cardinals are present or to postpone, in the event of some serious reasons, the beginning of the elections, by no more than a few days", the Pope announced. In his decree, he reminded however that the normal deadline for the organization of a Conclave is a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of 20 days from the beginning of the period of "vacant seat". After his retirement, Pope Benedict the 16th will be called "His Holiness Benedict the 16th, Emeritus Pope" or "His Holiness, Benedict the 16th, Roman pontiff emeritus", the spokesperson of the Holy See, father Federico Lombardi announced.

The Popes' functions expired on February 28th at 20:00 (21:00 Romanian time), after he saluted the cardinals present in Rome, in the morning. He will travel with the helicopter, at 17:00, to the Gandolfo Castle, to 25 kilometers south of Rome, to live for two months, in the papal summer residence. The Dean of the Holy College, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will send the cardinals invitations for the "Congregations" preceding the Conclave, starting on Friday. The Chamberlain cardinal, Italian Tarcisio Bertone, will become an "interim" pope, in charge of leading the Church until the election of the new pontiff, having far reduced powers. The Vatican's second in command, Bertone, aged 78, was appointed chamberlain in April 2007. All the high ranking officials of the Church's "government" - the Roman Curia - abandon their positions at the death of the Pope, according to the rules of the Apostolic constitution passed in 1996 by John Paul the 2nd. The same rule applies in the case of a resignation. Only the chamberlain cardinal will remain in office, to handle the current affairs of the Church.

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